I’ll be honest, I had a hard time choosing names to feature this week: there were just so many great options ! I was swapping names in and out more times than you can imagine, but finally we’ve made it.

For day 1 of Week C, we’re looking to Cornwall for inspiration. The county lies at the south-western tip of England, and has the dubious honour of being the only English county that I’ve yet to visit. Strange really, since Cornwall has been a popular tourist destination since the times of the Victorians.

Cornwall is the home of the Cornish people, who are recognised as being distinctly different, culturally speaking, from the majority of the rest of England. It’s interesting, as alongside the whole Scottish independence furor, several did comment about the potential for an independent Cornwall. Indeed, some have tried for years for Cornwall to compete separately from England at the Commonwealth Games.

What this is a very long way of saying is that Cornish names are more influenced by Celtic roots than the Germanic influence felt elsewhere, which gives rise to a whole host of fascinating names.

Like Chesten. She is, for all intents and purposes, the Cornish form of Christine and – from what I can gather – is pronounced how you’d probably expect: CHEST-en.

This name doesn’t rank at all in the England&Wales data, which includes babes born in Cornwall. As an aside, I personally think it would be fascinating to see separate Cornish stats, if only to see how Cornish names fare. We know that 17 girls were named Elowen in 2013, but I can’t help but wonder about their distribution.

Christine as a name is interesting, as it was recently commented to me by a 20-something friend that Christine is ‘hopelessly unfashionable’. Don’t you just love tidbits from those who don’t obsess over name statistics? But she makes a good point, nonetheless, as Christine is more common amongst the grandparents of we hip 20 year olds than our parents. The name ranked at #3 in 1944 and 1954, #26 in 1964, #63 in 1964, #89 in 1984 and thus dropping out of the Top 100 some 20 years ago in 1994. The name now lies outside the Top 1000, so the unfashionable comment is not without it’s merit.

But that’s still at least 27 more uses in 2013 than Chesten received.

Looking at the Top 100 these days and there are plenty examples of names that a reinventions of popular names of bygone years. Think Maisie for Margaret (#1, 1924-1944); Molly for Mary (#1, 1904-1914); Jack for John (#1, 1914-1944).

So there’s precedence, especially in the case of Maisie, who started out life as a nickname for the Scottish form of Margaret: Mairead.

Of course, the problem I see is that Chesten isn’t feminine and frilly like many popular girl names these days, which could be somewhat of a problem.

Chester the walking chest, from Don't Starve

Chester the walking chest, from Don’t Starve

The name actually reminds me of Chester, a character from the Don’t Starve survival PC game. Once you pick up the Eye Bone, Chester appears and you can store items in him. His name is a pun on the word chest, obviously. Chester is also, of course, a city in the Cheshire region of England, close to the Welsh border.

To surmise, what you get with Chesten is a no-frills Celtic adaptation of a name that’s not like to rise in popularity any time soon.

Categories: The Offbeat Alphabet Series | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Chesten

  1. I agree, it would be brilliant to have statistics for Cornwall, wouldn’t it? I’ve just thought, it would also be interesting to see a list of names at Cornish-language primary schools – I wonder if they’d be more Cornish than your average.


  2. Pingback: Chesten | Name News |

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